Friday, May 17, 2013

What About the Customers in the Middle?

There is a general rule in the market that customers will generally only offer feedback when they either have a really bad experience or great one.  If you believe that customers rarely say a word when their experience falls somewhere in the middle you are missing some valuable information. The point here is that most of the customers will typically be in the middle and they are the ones that will drive the success or the failure of business.

Most companies maintain a well-oiled customer satisfaction measurement system. There may be additional dimensions to the measurement that will lead them to believe that they are also measuring customer loyalty. When companies measure customers that have either had a bad experience or good experience, their measurement is inherently biased. They have missed the opportunity of measuring their entire database of customers from this selection process.

Most customers will reside in the middle and will not have had either a bad or great experience.  They are generally ignored and not measured.  In order to understand the customer experience of your entire customer base it is necessary to include those customers in the middle.  ForeSee, a survey company, ran an experiment that compared customer satisfaction scores from satisfaction surveys (which probably measured responses from customers with a recent experience) and then compared the scores from a random sample survey which included all customers. They found that the random sampling does a better job of measuring the wider range of customer experiences rather than just a select group of customers that often respond to the surveys from good and bad experiences.

A boss I had many years ago reminded me not to expect what I don't inspect.  The bottom line is that measurement of customer satisfaction must be done properly. The process of customer selection must include the customers in the middle.  If you are currently measuring only the customers with bad experiences and customers with great experiences you may be missing out on some rich information that resides with the customers in the middle. 


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